Tag Archives: Of Montreal

“Take Me With U” : A Screening of Purple Rain

5 May

prince-purple-rain

 

Going through Prince’s catalog on Tidal (I finally broke down and got the free trial–you already know I’m canceling that shit on the 29th day) evokes the feeling of going through my mom’s photo albums when I visit her on the holidays.

It is hard not to think of the outrageous leather pants and fish net shirts that my mom and aunt used to wear back in the 80’s. My uncle was a guitar playing, motorcycle riding, martial arts freak, so naturally he was a Prince fan. There weren’t many people in my family who didn’t at least own a copy of Purple Rain on vinyl or cassette.

When I was academically ineligible for high school baseball my sophomore year, I would come home from school, fix a sandwich, and listen to the A side of the 1999 album (Let’s Pretend We’re Married and Delirious were my jams).

What I remember most about going to see the first installment of the “Batman” series (directed by Tim Burton), was stopping at Sam Goody (remember those?) and grabbing the soundtrack on cassette.

My parents were never shy about exposing me to anything as a young child (refer to my write-up on American Werewolf of London), and revisiting all these old songs from my childhood is like hearing them for the first time. As an 11-year-old, I listened to what felt and sounded good–things like lyrics and production meant very little to me. Listening to the man’s music now as an adult , it is so easy to pick up on the influences he had on

a) light-skinned dudes (I can see why the 80’s were ruled by light skinned bruthas–with the emergence of Drake and Steph Curry, there may be a resurgence of that era)

b) hipster bands like Wild Nothing, Of Montreal, and Toro Y Moi

and c) Beck (Midnight Vultures was pretty much a Prince homage).

It was really easy to take his contribution for granted because I grew up listening to him.Every member of my family actively followed his career. Let’s be honest, unless you were a hard-core fan, or a music scholar (which I’m not) it was easy to sleep on his stuff after the mid 90’s–by that point he was making music for himself. To be even more honest, by the time I was in my late teens, there were a lot of males like me who thought he was a little strange (harmless–but it wasn’t like all the homies piled up in the car and drove downtown jamming Prince).

His death shook me up so much, because I happened to take off from work because of a bad dream I’d had the night before. I’d dreamt I was in a two seated plane with a friend who’d never flown before, and we were crashing. I was frantically trying to unbuckle my seat and jump out of the plane. The dream itself was so unsettling that I went online and requested a substitute teacher for the day. Then I  went back to sleep.

It was only after a few hours of running errands, that I’d come home to have lunch, had checked twitter to see my timeline flooded with tweets mired in disbelief. I wasn’t the biggest Prince fan. I don’t own a single CD of his, and it has been years since I’ve watched or listened anything by him that wasn’t played at the club or on the radio. The “Prince” sketch on The Chappelle Show isn’t even in my top 10 of his sketches. But I have to admit that the news stung a little.

I immediately wanted to call my aunts and uncles, and I even picked up the phone to shoot a  few texts, but for some reason decided not to do so. I wasn’t even planning on writing anything about him, having been removed from anything he’d been doing for so long. A phenomenal thing happened after his death though, throughout the country, movie theaters began screening  his first feature film, “Purple Rain” in his honor.

There was a showing of it at the local art house cinema here in town, and I made sure to get a nap so I would be able to stay up late enough for the 10 pm show. I’d seen the movie as a kid of course on Beta Max and VHS,of  course, but seeing it on the big screen seemed like the way to go.

It didn’t disappoint either. Don’t get me wrong, some of the dialogue was definitely corny and overdone, but how many 80’s movies aren’t guilty of this? It was pretty crazy seeing Clarence Williams III (Sampson from Half Baked) in the movie, playing his father. There is a sense of self-awareness at times– like it knows that a bit may fail, but they go for it anyway (a fearlessness that many 80’s movies share) . The close up shots (evocative of fans from David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust tour) during the opening montage are dynamite and hilarious.

purple-rain_still8

There were some uncomfortable moments for sure. The scenes where groupies are getting smacked around or thrown in dumpster are hard to watch. But there are plenty of redeeming moments. Morris Day and his flunky Jerome, bring a much-needed levity to the movie with their tongue in cheek interactions (there is even a nod to Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s on First?” bit written into a scene). “Let’s have some asses wigglin’ I want some perfection!” was easily the funniest line of the movie (“Don’t get my seat wet” may be the next funniest). I died laughing,and guiltily giggled well into the next scene.

let-s-go-crazy-and-obsessively-re-watch-prince-s-purple-rain

The hypnotic scene of the movie may have been,  when the Revolution took the stage to perform “The Beautiful Ones.” It was mesmerizing watching Prince sing this to Apollonia as Morris Day is trying to wine and dine her. It clearly unnerves her as the song climaxes with Prince screaming emphatically,”Do you want him? Or do you want me? Cuz I want you!”

It seems counterintuitive to think that Prince, who has been known for so long as “that dude” could ever be in a place to write such a vulnerable song. Even at such a young age, Prince understood how beautifully attractive people allowed themselves to become callous and careless.

The movie of course ends on a high note. After a series of heavy events in the film, the final performance, a medley of Purple Rain, I would Die 4 U, and Baby I’m a Star had people in the theatre dancing in their seats.

Seeing this movie put in perspective just how big he was (at the time) and how big he would become. The end of the movie is his Chuck Berry moment. He was the Jimi Hendrix of my parents generation. He was to black people what David Bowie and Elvis were to whites.

The sad thing is, that he was such a semi-recluse for so long, that I’d forgotten how much of a pioneer he was. The man was a true artist. He wasn’t afraid to stir the pot, and he didn’t burn out. He lived his life according to his own terms. Although it is sad that the world lost one its brightest and most enigmatic artists, on the bright side, he has left us so much to consider about life, art, and music.

I’ll be in Minneapolis this summer, and my buddy doesn’t know this, but he and I are taking the unofficial tour that we should have taken during my visit last summer. I’m not even one-tenth of a fan as many die hards out there, and I’ve never had the desire to see him live, or meet him. But I can’t think of a more appropriate way to pay homage to the Artist Formerly (and Forever) Known as Prince, than going to see Purple Rain. It was a pretty unique experience.

 

BM

Aside

Her Riotous Defects

16 Jun

We were in the middle of a perfect moment when shit got weird.

Smoking some good grass and listening to King Tubby on Pandora. We were waiting on the brownies to cool off. My buddy got the text from his crazy ex. She indeed was going to be at the Of Montreal show.

“Maaaaaaannnnn she doesn’t even like Of Montreal. Why the fuck does she wanna be there? She hates that scene.”

“ You know why man. She’s a fun ruiner!!!”

And that should have been an indicator of how things were going to go (actually ruining the first batch of bud butter should have tipped us off)

And SUDDENLY EVERYTHING HAS CHANGEDDDDDD!!!!

Although neither of us said so, we both knew that the care free evening we had planned was going to be marred by his crazy ex.

My boy was in a no win situation.If he was a dick to her an ignored her, he’d feel badly. If he indulged her she’d probably want to rehash their issues. Either way, the show was going to be about her and not Of Montreal.

She was going to ruin the night just by being there.

We tried not to think about it too much, but clearly we were both distracted. We had to make the cabbie turn around and go back to his apartment because I left the tickets on his dining table. There was something off about the night and there was no way to restore the balance. Shit was about to get weird.

Trees is a venue I was familiar with. I spent part of the nineties drinking coffee and reading bad poetry in some of the Deep Ellum establishments. When I was 19 and an idiot, my friends and I would go see this shitty rock band called Pimpadelic.  They played at Trees many a time. Sometimes I’d black out from taking pills and drinking, then wake up as we were driving back to Cedar Hill.

The best show I ever saw at Trees was in 2004. Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra came through and laid that shit down. I have never danced so much at a show in my life. At the end of the night we went next door to Cafe Brazil and ran into former Dallas Mavericks great Sam Perkins, getting his attention by yelling “GO TARHEELS!!”

I didn’t for see anything remotely as cool as that happening this particular night. I could just feel the weirdness permeating everything around us.

I’d never seen Of Montreal, but from all the Youtube clips I’d ever seen, they seemed pretty out there. My buddy D.T. Told me he’d seen them a couple of times. I asked him how it was and he kinda smirked and said, “Pretty homoerotic.” [shit gets really wild at about the 9:00 minute mark. The audio of the clip is bad so you may just want to skip to that point.]

I’d heard like three songs that I’d really liked by them, one of them being The Past is a Grotesque Animal on the “Hissing Fauna” album.

[the audio is much better on this clip from an NPR show]

I’d jammed the shit out of their album, False Priest which had elements of David Bowie, Prince, and oddly enough Outkast (maybe not so oddly– they were from Atlanta after all). I was curious about these cats and it seemed fitting that weird shit would go down with them in town.

The opening act was  Kishi Bashi, some Japanese cat who seemed like he was sounding like a mixture of James Iha, Tim Reynolds, and one of those Pure Moods cd’s. We listened to about 2 minutes then decide to wait outside before catching a bit of the second act.

It was this cat from Atlanta wearing a purple jacket and no shirt. He picked up his guitar and started playing a familiar riff. He was starting out with a cover. It was “ That Lady” by the Isleys. White people were loving it. His name was Roman GianArthur, and he reminded me of that dude Calvin from 227.

My buddy and I looked at each other and walked towards the smoking area on the patio to get some fresh air.

And there she was. FUCK!!!!!

She waved. 

We waved and kept walking to the part of the patio where we weren’t engulfed in Dallas hipsters and cancerous cigarette smoke (which wasn’t easy).

“Don’t look at her man. We waved. You don’t have to go talk to her.”

He nodded. I could tell he was annoyed.

We stood outside in awkward agony trying to decide which was worse, seeing that corny ass nigga inside, or being out there with this psychotic ginger broad.

We decided to go back inside.

We gutted it out. His ex would come inside and keep looking at us. We escaped to the balcony and shot the shit until the main event came on.

And it was almost worth the wait.

The stage show was phenomenal. The lighting was perfect. The costumes were perfect. The leader of the band Kevin Barnes had this weird ass haircut where it was long on the left side and buzzed on the right.

The lead guitarist looked like Jeff “Skunk” Baxter Jr. It was like the Muppet Band were cast into a spell that made them human.

They sounded well rehearsed, tight, and funky! Not a false note anywhere. The rhythm section was on point–grooving. They were on tour to support their latest album Paralytic Stalks, not a song had I heard before but I enjoyed everything they played.

It was highly theatrical and impressive–like a mix between Rocky Horror Picture Show,David Bowie, and Queen.Well done but subtle (pretty much like the above clip from an NPR gig). This was just as impressive as a Radiohead or Flaming Lips show, but even more so because it was scaled down. Everything about the show was meticulous and seemed well thought out. A very high energy show.

The stimulating evening ended with one of my favorite songs, one of three I knew;

The Gronlandic Edit.

I looked around to catch eyes with my buddy but realized he wasn’t around. I looked down onto the floor and saw him in a heated conversation with psycho red.

“Well, fuck.”  I thought,I at least was going to enjoy myself.

I walked down the stairs feeling very satisfied after the set. I still had my buzz and the show was well worth the $20 we’d paid.

But not everything was right for everyone. My friend was in a state of agitation I’d never seen him in before, screaming at this poor silly girl, who actually thought it’d be a good idea to show up.

Knowing what it could look like, he being Latino, me being a Nigger, it was best that we kick rocks, and fast.

I hailed the closest taxi and drug him away from his stalker, as she grabbed my arm with desperate eyes, pleading with me to “just let her talk to him. She just wanted to talk with him.”

“Time and place woman. Get a hold of yourself!”

We  got into the cab in a state of disbelief. It was best that we head back to the apartment before things got weirder. I half expected her to be waiting at his apartment with a knife in the parking lot. She was that crazy.

I hate to admit it but I was a little scared. Steve McNair gave every dude who’d dated a nut a serious dose of reality. My own brother had once been stabbed by his crazy, half Mexican girlfriend and he still stayed with her ( he once said to “I don’t think she’ll ever stab me again” ) I didn’t want to be an innocent bystander because two years ago my boy had wanted some strange.

Thankfully she was not there. Going back out for food, however; was slightly unnerving.  Coming back from Taco Cabana we were relieved to see that she wasn’t sitting in the parking lot, rocking back and forth. My paranoia was so intense that I half expected her to be waiting inside the living room of his apartment for us with a big ass Cutko knife.

We did finally calm down enough to laugh about the sheer zaniness of the evening. The only way things could have been more appropriate would have been had they played this song:

Cause she was indeed a crazy girl in desperate need of some help.

Thank God for marijuana and X-Box. And thank God I was leaving for Austin the next day. Shit was getting just a little too weird in the Big D. It was time to make a break for it.

March Madness Revisited pt. 1

14 Jun

Before the new year began I bought myself a dry erase board. This was a way to achieve two things:

1) I could keep track of weekly activities and duties.

2) I could have my yearly goals set right in front of my face and be accountable for them.

There were silly ones like get a membership at the local Y,

get myself a colonic,

take piano lessons.

Then there were the serious ones like buy a longboard,

take a cruise out of New Orleans and most importantly hit up my old stomping grounds for SXSW.

Last year I badly wanted to go because there were so many bands I wanted to see.

The Great Lake Swimmers interested me, I believe M. Ward was playing, this band out of Quebec, Final Flash was making an appearance. Unfortunately I didn’t get my schedule request in on time and couldn’t get the days off I wanted (I just cringed remembering that I wanted  to go see Donald Glover perform as Childish Gambino).

So I didn’t go.

This year it was a priority.

But with my recent increase in pay, I was delighted to find that I could afford to purchase really good seats for Thunder games. I bought 3 for the month of March alone.  I had tickets to see the Clippers, Timberwolves, and the Spurs.

I also had lucked into a ticket at the Radiohead show in Austin. On top of that Of Montreal was playing in Dallas at Trees.

Something had to give. It was going to take some serious creativity to do all of this AND keep my job.

SXSW was suddenly looking iffy. Two trips to Austin in a week seemed a bit crazy. But as some who know me would say, crazy was what I was best at (especially when it came to women).

Radiohead would be easy. That fell on the 7th which was an off day. I took the first bus out of Tulsa ( 4AM) and got into Austin about 3 that afternoon. I met up with my friends around 5 and we got ready for the show.

Let’s just say I ingested an assortment of party favors so that by the time the boys from Oxford took the stage I was seeing tracers ( and it wasn’t just from the light show).

Some quick history about me and Radiohead:

I’d first gotten turned on to them before my freshman year of high school. There was this punk ass kid who lived in my apartments who liked making trouble even more than I did. We immediately took to each other. We’d open unlocked cars and pilch through them, smoke cigarettes and drink beer from his mom’s fridge.

We eventually had a falling out over a girl. He asked out someone I was digging on at the time and this soured things between us. She would come spend the night at this place which perturbed me because he was already sexually experienced and I hadn’t even French kissed a girl yet.

One night when we were chilling at his place–the three of us– time got away from us, and before we knew it, six in the morning had come. A mixture of fatigue and melancholy hanging over me when this video came on MTV. It was a slow ditty, with this fella who had a beautiful voice, and it just captured me. There was a build up that led to a well timed feedback, and then it had this nice crescendo. Obviously this was the Creep video.

I went to school the next week and during social studies I looked over at this guy’s notebook and it had the words

“I wish I were special. You’re so fucking special.”

Yes. He knew. And I looked at him differently from that point on (PAUSE).

1993-1994 was a pretty interesting period for music when I look back on it.  At the time I was only into hardcore hip-hop and totally missed out on the alternative wave. I couldn’t understand what all these white people were so angsty about in their dull flannel shirts and weird hairdo’s  (though I do remember digging on some Mazzy Star–that shit went hard).

Fake Plastic Trees/High and Dry was the first single I bought when it came out in ’95 (I didn’t finally get Pablo Honey til ’97 because the only song I knew was Creep). I jammed the fuck out of that during my teen depression period–having finally kissed a girl but still not gotten laid.

At this point I was listening to the shit out of some U2 along with the hardcore hip hop (I was progressing) hiding my “white boy shit” in the closet whenever my black friends came to hang out.

By the time OK Computer hit the shelf I had graduated high school and was completely intrigued with this band that kept coming up in different junctures of my teen aged years.

This album  got me to buy in completely. I first heard it on headphones and it completely blew me away. Took me to places I’d never been. I spent months just driving around North Dallas listening to that album on full blast.

My friends called me a pussy. Though critics were hailing their latest work, most of my friends still knew them as the ‘Creep band’. Radiohead were certainly not in the mainstream quite yet.

When I found myself driving to Fair Park Music Hall to go see them, I was driving alone because no one I knew wanted  to go to the show. I didn’t have a ticket–in fact I had planned on watching a Red-Sox game on ESPN. It was a last minute decision to check them out.

I found a scalper and paid $80 bucks for a third row seat then I walked into the venue. It was pretty awesome to say the least. It was a life changing experience, one that I shared with only a few hundred people. It felt like being in a cool little fan club. It seemed like all the artsy kids I never hung out with in high school were there.

After the show I went out and bought their previous album, The Bends, and having heard a lot of the material live; I was officially a fan.

In the fall of 2000 I  met a guy at North Texas who had all the B-sides. He burned them for me and I couldn’t believe how many good songs there were that had never made it to an album. He had to put them onto two discs so that I could get them all.

This couldn’t have been timed any better because Kid A was their highly anticipated release. No one knew what to expect. When it came out I was a little disappointed. The beautiful depressing songs were few in number, replaced with these weird electronic beeps and noises.

What the fuck? I thought.  Yorke has this beautiful ass voice and he was hiding it behind synthesizers and weird effects and compressors. I couldn’t understand it, and just as weird as their music would become, so would the decade.

Every time I could finally catch up to what they were playing they would go in a different direction. And man the B-sides from that Amnesica-Kid A period was pretty fucking grooving. Some of them were better than songs that they put onto album(Fog is definitely in my top 20). Eventually I stopped trying to get it and just started digging it. Some songs of course were easier than others.

When In Rainbows came out I felt like that was the album I had expected to hear when they dropped Kid-A. It was an album I wanted to shag to, cry to, laugh to, dance to, it was impeccable.

When King of Limbs came out I knew better than to try and guess what it’d sound like. I even gave it 50 listens before I made a judgment about it. I knew there were some songs I liked, but some I wasn’t quite sure of (I still can’t listen to Harry Patch or Daily Mail).

I did know this would be a different show. They’d added a drummer to their stage show, and I was hoping this would be the thing to shake things up. I’d always been vocal about something having to change. I wasn’t sure if they were going to break up or what,especially after hearing how funky the Atoms for Peace band was.

My biggest fantasy was them doing an album with Brian Eno just to switch things up ( It made sense to me. Work with the guy who worked with the Talking Heads? they got their name from a Heads’ song).

But as always, the artist knows what’s best for them, and adding Clive Deamer (the drummer from Portishead) was a solid decision.

Every Radiohead concert I attended seemed to coincide with a transitional period in my life.  The first concert that I’d seen them in Dallas (OK Computer tour) was a pivotal period in my life. I was 19 and was just tapping into this other side of reality (beyond what I had known as a dumb jock). My tastes in art, fashion, and music (and consequently drugs) would drastically change. My reality would forever be altered.

I missed the Kid-A/Amnesiac tour because I was saving my money to make a move to Austin.

I caught them on the Hail to the Thief Tour which signaled my return back to university life back in Denton. I had moved back to the north Texas area after being swallowed alive by the Austin rat race. My grandmother had just passed away as well and I had just moved into my own apartment. The highlight of that night was seeing them play Lurgee off the Pablo Honey album (Jonny’s guitar wailing made me misty-eyed)

There was a touch of bitterness because I wasn’t close enough to the stage (my mother had purchased me GA tickets because she didn’t think I’d want to stand up all night in the Pit seating). The whole show my eyes looked longingly towards the pit area, wondering what if.

I had ridden with this girl that I had known back in the dorm days.  She had an OK Computer tat on her ass. She and her boyfriend drove down (with me in tow) and that was the first time I had a listen to the Gagging Order b-side, one of the prettiest tunes Thom had ever written.

In 2006, a buddy and I drove up to Toronto from his parents’ home in Michigan hoping to score some tickets to a show at the Hummingbird Theatre. They were only doing select gigs in theaters in a few cities across America. We scored some balcony seats for about 120 US dollars.

It was a great show. Very small and intimate. Not a bad seat in the house. But the night was soured because I couldn’t quit thinking about how much we’d spent to see them. I kept hoping that they’d play certain songs (Talk Show Host mainly) and frankly felt a little ripped off ( PLAY SOME B-SIDES DAMMIT!!!).

To punctuate the evening me and my buddy got into a fight because I wanted to eat at this Hooters by our hostel and he wanted to go somewhere local. We ended up wandering the streets looking for something open, both of us hungry and bitchy. We finally settled on a Falafel joint and went back to our room to smoke and go to sleep.

I’d go on to stand outside of 3 more concerts that tour, increasingly dissatisfied with their set lists. Why was I such a malcontent? Why did I suddenly dislike them?

Or was I just frustrated at how distant the band seemed from me in relation to that first concert? It seemed like every frat boy and douchebag liked Radiohead now.  Some of these yahoos probably couldn’t tell the difference between them and Coldplay. But Radiohead’s increasing popularity was driving the price for tickets up and it was damn near impossible to get floor seats for their shows.

So yeah I was sour. This was (probably?) silly backlash, and a juvenile response for their success. They were no longer this underground band that made me feel cool to be at their show. Just observing the crowds and hearing them scream like groupies at Thom made me sick. I  needed a break.

I skipped the In Rainbows tour for that reason and because most of the songs on that album I’d seen previewed on the theaters tour in ’06.

I wasn’t exactly sure if i’d see them on the King of Limbs Tour. My buddy Roach was very excited about the new stuff and had already bought a floor ticket for the Dallas show. He’d had good reports. Said it was easily the best show he’d seen by them.

This was encouraging.

So there I was.  I was 33 years old watching a show in a venue I’d worked at in my early 20’s, working shows like Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Tool, and Tom Petty. Hanging with some old school Austin friends. The moment was speaking to me. The douchebags and sorostitutes weren’t bothering me that much either. I even had a real job.

But what the fuck was I still doing in Tulsa when there was a bad ass city like Austin for me to live in?

“If you think this is over then you’re wrong.”

The show was incredible. And easily the best set I’d ever seen by them. They had somehow surpassed the Dallas ’98 gig. I realized a few things that night.

They were not going to break up. In fact they were better than ever. Somehow they were also super funky, with lots of poly rhythms and percussion. The addition of Deamer added a lot to the set (kind of when Talking Heads added more musicians to their live act).

They seemed so loose also. In my head I attributed it to them taking a dip at Barton Springs, and getting in tune with the city.

Greenwood was wearing a Texas shirt. The audience showed them so much love. You could tell they were enjoying themselves. Yorke even told jokes on stage.

” what do you call a fish with three eyes?”

A Fiiish” 

Yea I didn’t get it either at first.

But it was a perfect night that had given me something to think about. Mainly that I was way too liberal to be living in Oklahoma. But I was living there for a reason. Part of that was because I had a decent paying job that would allow me to do some crazy shit like I was doing this month.

I only got to spend a day and a half there on this venture but I’d be back in four short days for a week of mayhem. But I was not prepared for what I was about to encounter in the monster that SXSW had become.

A preview of what’s to come

27 Apr

There is a blog post coming along with this clip. March was a crazy month. I haven’t had a chance to recap but its coming. There was lots of hoops, music, interstate traveling, and even a little Godly Intersex.